No writer is an island. Trying to go it alone might work for the occasional introverted genius, but in order to fully realize your potential as a writer, it’s important to have community. What that means can be manifest in very different forms, but there are a number of important benefits to writing with a community. Other writers will keep you accountable, and give you a natural impetus to meet your own deadlines. They can give you feedback on your work, share techniques that they’ve developed. Above all, other writers provide solidarity, since they’re trying to accomplish the same monumental task that you’ve put before yourself. Finding the right community can be difficult, but you have options available to you.
Some of us are approaching writing too late for classes to be a regular option. But if you’re still in high school or college, make sure you take classes, and take them voraciously. Writing workshops are particularly useful, providing hands-on experience, consistent motivation, other writers to bounce ideas and develop with, and strong instructors guiding your path. If you’re older, though, and not in an academic setting, don’t despair. Contact local public and community colleges, and see if it’s possible to audit any of their classes. You don’t have to pay for a college degree in order to benefit from the education provided in their classrooms.
Community Centers and Libraries
The academic world simply isn’t available to many of us, but fortunately, other resources exist to fill their slot in the community. Many public libraries or community centers will host writing workshops that you can just show up at. Inquire at the information desk or look for flyers to find information about what’s going on in your town’s public facilities.
Social media presents many difficulties to the modern age, but facilitates things that were never possible in years past. If you don’t have the inclination or resources to reach out to your physical community to find writers to work off of, then you can turn to online communities. Tumblr and Reddit both have a number of communities dedicating to connecting writers. Some are larger, groups numbering in the hundreds of thousands, where you can study what others are doing and search for collected wisdom. If you search a little deeper, though, you can find smaller communities based around writing just about every niche, and you can form relationships with the writers you meet online, providing and gaining feedback in turn.
Form Your Own
One thing about writers, they often know other writers. You don’t need to have a rigidly controlled group to benefit from the community of other writers. Even if you just have a few other friends who write, try to set up a weekly meeting with them. Agree to review each other’s work, and agree that you’ll have new work to present every time you meet. It’s easier than you’d think to simply become your own writing group.
Groups can be as massive as millions of people online, or as small as you and one or two other collaborators in a coffee shop. How it manifests doesn’t really matter, what matters is connecting yourself to other writers, gaining insight, and creating accountability. Whatever direction you decide to go, make sure that you get the most out of that community to help you on your own writer’s journey.